When so much is at stake:Understanding organizational brinkmanship in family business

Smith, Celina and Nordqvist, Mattias and De Massis, Alfredo and Miller, Danny (2021) When so much is at stake:Understanding organizational brinkmanship in family business. Journal of Family Business Strategy, 12 (4). ISSN 1877-8585

Text (Smith_et_al._2021_JFBS_Organizational_brinkmanship_in_family_business)
Smith_et_al._2021_JFBS_Organizational_brinkmanship_in_family_business.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs.

Download (646kB)


The role of brinkmanship in politics and international affairs has captured headlines and popular attention around the globe. It is a behavioral phenomenon whereby to gain concessions actors like states and governments take actions that may not only harm their adversaries, but also themselves. However, hidden from view, and far less understood is its role in business and management. This is an important oversight not only because stakes can be high in business, but also because how members of a firm's dominant coalition respond to existential threats can be critical for organizational outcomes. We introduce the notion of organizational brinkmanship and outline how the process unfolds in a context where family engagement in the business can also serve to heighten potential stakes. With our focus on family business we unravel circumstances where the propensity to maintain historical and current family control over the business can increase susceptibility to engaging in organizational brinkmanship. The cornerstone of our contribution is to develop a conceptual model that explains how the process of brinkmanship can unfold in a family business. We also offer a future research agenda to guide scholarly attention on this important yet under-explored area of research and suggest propositions. This work is particularly timely in light of increasing environmental instability around the globe.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of Family Business Strategy
Additional Information:
This is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Journal of Family Business Strategy. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Journal of Family Business Strategy, 12, 4, 2021 DOI: 10.1016/j.jfbs.2021.100425
Uncontrolled Keywords:
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
25 Jun 2021 16:25
Last Modified:
17 Sep 2023 03:03